The Charlotte Hornets need help on the wing. They also need a boost to their perimeter defense. Isaac Okoro checks both of those boxes.
Weight: 225 pounds
Strengths: Defense, athleticism, finishing ability, playmaking potential
Isaac Okoro’s immediate NBA skill is his defense. He’s stout and balanced and can guard positions 1-4 comfortably. He has quick feet to stay in front of guards on the perimeter and the length and athleticism to recover if he gets beat by the initial move. He has the strength and length to battle against bigger covers. He has a non-stop motor and should immediately be able to step in as a plus defender at the NBA level.
On offense, Okoro is an incredibly efficient scorer around the basket. He uses his strength to create space for himself, but he also has very soft touch at the rim. He has a deep bag of finishing moves, including soft floaters over shot blockers. He converted 60.7% of his 2-point attempts during his lone season at Auburn, which is insanely high for a wing player. He’s also a foul magnet with a free throw rate of 55.1%.
His numbers won’t show it, but Okoro is a good playmaker for his teammates. He’s a connector on offense and shows flashes of high level vision and decision making. He can handle the ball as a secondary creator out of the pick and roll and is adept at finding cutters and spot up shooters as a driver.
Weaknesses: Outside shooting, scoring
The only real red flag on Okoro’s game is his outside shot. He converted just 28.6% of his 3-point attempts and 67.2% of his free throws. He doesn’t always shoot the ball confidently and his form can vary a little bit from shot to shot.
Cleaning up his shot would boost his scoring, since that’s just about the only thing missing from his game in that respect. He has the slashing ability to be a good scorer, especially if he can become a threat to knock down 3-pointers and free throws.
All hope is not lost on this front, however. Okoro finished the season relatively strong from the outside. He converted four of his ten 3-point attempts in his final four games, and he converted 33.3% of his 3-pointers over his final nine games. Those numbers won’t blow you away, but they’re a step in the right direction. He’s also flashed the ability to knock down pull-up threes off the dribble when he’s feeling confident, which gives room for optimism.
I think a lot of Hornets fans will hear alarm bells ringing in their heads when they read the strengths and weaknesses of Isaac Okoro. His scouting report reads like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s coming out of Kentucky, and that didn’t work out as well as the Hornets would’ve hoped. That’s a valid concern, but there are other players with similar profiles in college that have had much better NBA careers.
The most recent comparison is Jaylen Brown. In his lone season at Cal, Brown connected on just 29.4% of his 3-point attempts and 65.4% of his free throws. He was seen as a tenacious defender coming out of college, even with relatively low block and steal numbers. He’s turned into a key part of the Celtics’ core and looks like he could become an All Star in the near future.
Picture courtesy of tankathon.com